Denise DeVaney, Warren, ME. Charleston made me finally feel it: racism is not a black issue, it’s an American issue. We have to accept that an attack on someone of color because of their race is an attack on America. We have to come together to fight it.
Massiel Ramos, Bronx, NY. Sometimes your race depends on the people and culture you associate yourself with. If that’s the case, I’ll never fit into one solid category.
Pavla Pletkova, VA. Looking at my picture you could never tell. Listening to me speak you could never tell. What I’ve been told is I look like a “regular light skinned black girl”. But little do they know I’m far from regular. As far as I know, I have never met another Czech-Ghanaian person, well, […]
Shonda Kay Purvis, Green Cove Springs, FL. I have had to rebrand myself and change my name because “Shonda K. Purvis” (and her “BLACK” resume) doesn’t get job interviews, but SK Purvis (and “his” “WHITE” resume) does. (By the way, I am a Caucasian female. You thought I was black, didn’t you?)
Lillian J. Hall, Dallas, TX. I was a freshman in college. I was sitting in the dining hall with a friend, near a window. It was “Texas Day”. The theme was obvious by the bails of hay, western-wear-clad employes and of course, barbecue on the menu. My friend and I were chatting, when all of […]
Kayla Doering, Statesboro, GA. My father is of Irish descent and my Mother is Native American. Something I’ve always dealt with while being out in public with my father is people staring at us like we were a rare species. Growing up, while running daily errands with my father, I remember older women asking if […]
Chris Porter, Seattle, WA. It is hard for me to think about living in a country where my life seems to have little value. It is hard to think about living in a country that is the envy of so many around the world and yet I am not part of that envy. It is […]
Hilary Sloane, Joshua Tree, CA. It happened several times. The last time a stranger shot me five times through my car window and hit me three times. I have had the opportunity to heal those traumas through encounters with beautiful, loving strangers of color. My responses are relaxing and I no longer jump when I […]
Mary Ann Paris Philadelphia, PA Except for my brother, there were never any children who looked like me. I am black and white, more specifically black, jewish, german, irish, italian and polish and my brother and I have European features. We grew up in a segregated part of Philadelphia among black children. They never wanted […]
Jordi A. Snell, The Netherlands. My mother is Dutch and my father is Moluccan (Melanesian I assume). I don’t exactly know what my father’s race is because alot of Moluccans have mixed race ancestry. All I know is that my father’s skin color is ‘Black’, he has thick curly hair when it’s long, but his […]
Dakota Dubois, Spokane, WA.
Danielle Petterson, Tampa, FL. I have light brown skin and I consider myself to be mixed. Most people have a simple-minded belief that “mixed” means that one parent is black while the other is white. To me, it runs so much deeper than that. I have 4 grandparents from 4 different countries: Puerto Rico, Curaçao, […]
Itoko Richardson, Daly City, CA. I am Japanese and my husband is Black (he extremely dislikes to be called African-American). Our experience alone was interesting and filled with many racist, stereotype encounters and reactions. But my experience with my daughter is interesting. When I and my daughter are out, I can feel strangers’ wonder of […]
Cooper Shell, Jackson, TN. She’s White in a Black Body….. That is what has ALWAYS been said to describe me—since I was at least 12 years old. My name is Cooper Shell, and I grew up in Choctaw County, MS. I hail from a blended family which is very typical in my town. I suppose […]
Kelly M., Indonesia. My six words were spoken by my daughter when she was seven years old. I am From Texas, my family tree consists of Irish and English immigrants and Cherokee Native Americans. We generally look Caucasian, but all five siblings have slightly different skintones. I now live in Indonesia, I’m a single Mom […]
Liz Pryor, Northampton, MA. Smith College. My mother was white. So was her whole family. After my husband, who is white, proposed, my grandmother cornered my cousin and asked “Does he know about Elizabeth?” My cousin asked back, “Does he know what?” and my grandmother answered, “That she’s Black.”
Ebony, Farmington Hills, MI. I grew up in a place where Black people felt they made it. A suburban community where the majority of residents were Black, employed, and thriving. It was wonderful growing up in this setting but it created unrealistic expectations for what the “real world” was and what life is like for […]
David, Detroit, MI. To the cops, I am “white”. To many others I am “not” black. I don’t try to pass and I don’t try to compensate for it by “acting” black. I am very direct about these issues though. I am a black guy. How much more direct can I be? I’m not adopted. […]
Alethia Grace Cyrus, Tulalip, WA. My most striking experience of my own internal “like me is normal” sense came midway through reading The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer. The front cover shows the protagonists, two of whom are Black. The story is set in futuristic Zimbabwe, and I’m pretty sure I […]
Caitlin Grames Sterling Heights, MI Race, gender, heritage, and all other innate traits we are born with are only secondary to our life experiences. Our stories make us who we are as individuals. And you can’t capture a whole history with just “black”, or just “white”.
Joelle Kanyana TN Going to school in a town where I’m in the minority as a black girl (Burundian heritage, Ghana-born, American citizen) has its interesting experiences. One that always seems to repeat itself is the matchmaking by my classmates with the black guys there. I’ve had this conversation many times before: “Joelle, you’d look […]
Lance Bergstrom, Seattle, WA. Three Black guys attacked me and a friend one night. I got punched so hard I passed out and fell down. When I tried to tell the police that they were Black my friend told me not to say Black. Very bizarre night to say the least.
Bethany O’Neal , Submitted via Twitter: @bethanyoneal.
Sozit Mohamed, Sunnyvale, CA. Being Ethiopian with Arab heritage in my family, most do not believe I’m black/African. Also, being black and muslim, seems to be the worst thing you can be in America right now.
Joni Graves, Spring Green, WI. I made this mash-up design for a t-shirt after an unfortunate coincidence in my email inbox. Prior to today’s announcement by the DA in the shooting of Tony Robinson, and two minutes after the UW-Madison Chancellor’s email “Campus resources for the Tony Robinson decision”, I received a “Badger Voice” newsletter […]
Ce Submitted via Twitter: @CelesteAurora Sunday March 11, 2012- 140 character exchanges spark a rich conversation… The Tweets that ignited the conversation… We aren’t all “Strong Black Women” @CelesteAurora Has “strong” become a euphemism for “it doesn’t matter how we treat them because they’ll survive”? Pamela Upsher @PupsherLive It seems so. […]
Tammy Medell Gardner San Jose, CA I am white. The man with whom I fell in love in 1982 was black. We met in Fort Worth, Texas working at the same company. He grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, while I was from northern Michigan. Our romance, so new and full of hope, soon faltered […]
Danny Zapler, Mount Prospect, IL. In hindsight, it is clear she is black. I knew about black and white people, but I just never saw her in racial terms. She was just the girl I liked in 6th grade. I only realized I was dating a black girl when a teenage boy on my block […]
Brandi Green, Chicago, IL. I constantly am asked “what I am” or “are you mixed” Nope. I’m black and albino. It’s a fascinating existence.
Diane, Fairbanksm, AK. Images of Alaska never show Black faces, but yet in Fairbanks, the state’s second largest city, the Black population is equal to that of Alaska Natives. We have been effectively erased from our own history and present day lives. I work with tourists and a day doesn’t go by when I don’t […]
Natasha Smith, Philadelphia, PA. I am white. I look white. I am white? Pale skin, red frizzy hair, littered with freckles. Often I am asked “Are you Irish?” The answer is “No…” and I wonder if it is the time to go into my family’s racial identity or my own struggles with my racial identity. […]
Corrine Ferrell-Macatee, Baltimore, MD. Me, bad bangs, my best friend, little girl with braids, my cousin, cute little Japanese girl. My nana and sister are here too, it wasn’t til I was in my early teens I even realized we weren’t all white, black or Japanese.
Carn Paggot, Cincinnatti, OH.
Maynard Hearns, Santa Cruz, CA. The black story in america is very simple: we were slaves, and then we weren’t. We were never given freedom, or equality. When we begged for it, we were lied to. When we Marched on Washington and pleaded our case, we were shot in the back of the head. When […]
Tamara Henderson, Lewisville, NC. We all bleed the same way!
Jasmine Honegan. Brazil. Growing up as one of 5 black families in an all white town in CT, ‘ I don’t see color’ was the go to phrase whenever anyone said anything controversial, racist, or condescending. I remember always feeling uncomfortable with the line, it was used as if the inability to see color made […]
James Edward Mills, Madison, WI. On June 24,2013 Adina Scott made a satellite phone dispatch from 17,200 feet on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park. As part of the climbing team Expedition Denali, she and the 18 others had already spent a total of 16 days on the mountain and nearly a week camped at […]
Patrick Lawrence, Chandler, AZ. Growing up white in Hawaii during the seventy’s the color of my skin gave 85% of the population an excuse to hate and attack me daily.
Jeanette Ju-Pierre Westminster, England
Hao Nguyen, Durham, NC. I wanted to say… Black Vietnamese. Speak english, spanish, vietnamese. Eat suong kho, pho, and corn dogs. Words that describe my mixed race/heritage children. Having to choose only 6 words, I had to put them in order of words that most describe them. Having to choose what comes first — black […]
Mat Johnson, Submitted via Twitter: @mat_johnson
Damme Getachew, Seattle, WA. My parents are from Ethiopia and so I self-identify as Ethiopian. I’m frequently asked “Where are you from?” as if being a person of color means that I was born somewhere other than the United States. Aren’t we past that?
Paco Romane, San Francisco, CA. I grew up in an all white racist small town, with a hispanic nickname (paco), a white mom, and a black step-dad who’s last name was White. It taught me a lot including I believe there are two different kinds of white people: those become “black” around black people and […]
Edward O’Neill, Queens, NY.
Mark, USA. This means that judging people doesn’t come out of nowhere. Assuming people are something because of what they look like is not okay. But, there is a reason that more black people are in prisons than white people. That’s because more black people commit crimes than white people do.
Brea Miles, High Point, NC.
Rewan, New York, NY. I’m 15 years old, and I live in New York. My parents were both born and raised in Egypt and moved here in the ’80s. Let me cut to the chase- I’ve been called white, Hispanic, “light skin,” but I consider my self Arabic, because Egyptians speak Arabic and is located […]
Felicia Oakmon, Autin, TX. This statement is a repeat offender. I am half black and half Mexican, but I wasn’t aware that ALL “black girls”,or ALL people are exactly the same. Instead of judging people by media, social networks,and what you have heard… take the time to have a conversation, take the time to listen […]
Zoe Zeerip, Rockford, MI. The elders in my family still believe race defines relationship.
Shava, Lake Oswego, OR. At times it can be confusing. I have wondered where I fit in. But in the end…I’m so glad to have the depth of experience that being multicultural has given me. I’m black, white and I’m Jewish. It’s amazing!
Kyetheus Monteiro, California, PA. To be young, gifted and Black!
Carolyn Hipkins, Largo, MD. All my life I’ve been told that I have “good hair”. Its very soft and with a loose curl pattern. If I straighten it or put a relaxer in it it looks like Caucasian hair. But let the humidity go up. My hair reverts to its natural curly state. I spent […]
Dinah Paulos, San Francisco, CA. My family originates in Ethiopia, and I am the first generation who was not born there. So what does that make me? I am the true definition of African American. My family is from Africa and I was born in America, thus making me an African American. When I tell […]
P. Contreras, Benicia, CA. How you choose to dress gives an impression about you. Whether that impression is accurate or not no one will know unless they get to know you. But, they won’t get to know you if your image repels them. Example. Teenage Boy (black, Hispanic, Asian, white) in your neighborhood in jeans […]
Brian Murray, Seattle, WA. Growing up it was always hard to find my own identity because I came from a bi-racial background. I am half Black and half Japanese and always had problems being accepted by either racial group because of my uniqueness. Although coming from a low-income housing development called the Rainier Vista Projects […]
Brittany Carney, Washington, DC. As a person that is three quarters African American and one quarter Japanese, I feel that culturally I’m the other away around.
Chris Porter Seattle, WA History and TV have provided many roles, mostly negative, for black males. Our society rarely sees black men in the role of care taker or nurse, providing nursing care and in the role of leader particularly in a female dominated profession. It has been my life’s mission to tear down that […]
Matthew English, Lakeland, FL. Michele was at my college today for convocation. Her words spoke the truth. I will always listen.
Lemuel Reddikc, New York City, NY. People ask me “where are you from?” and I never know how to answer that. I just say “I’m black,” but then they ask me where my parents are from. My maternal grandmother is from the West Indies and my maternal grandfather was from the Carribean, but I can’t […]
Emma S. Sunderland, Bountiful, UT.
Mia Manning, Atlanta, GA.
Cortney Pouncey, Sacramento, CA. Being biracial, my hands have always been forced to choose what ethnicity I should identify as. In reality, I am just as black as I am white. How could I pick one and deny the other? I believe biracial people are the key to end racism.
Nathalie Nevins Aspen, CO
Carol Salami-Goswick Eugene, OR I’m a white woman who was born, raised, and lived in CA until I was 54. I was in college during the 60’s and was sympathetic to the black folks struggling for equality in the South. In my 30’s I had a serious relationship with a black man. I worked in […]
Celesti Colds Fechter, Tarrytown, NY. I feel as though when I am the only African-American in a setting that I feel obligated to “speak” for other African-Americans. I will not do it and don’t ask me to do it. I had a job where I was the first African-American hired in a professional setting. I […]
Julie A. Perkins, NV. I’m 22 years old, half African America, half Caucasian. Because I’m black, I have been racially profiled and discriminated against because of my gender and skin color. But I’ve also had the terrible taste prejudice from many black people due to my mother being white and me not being full black. […]
Sandra C. Seaton East Lansing, MI Listen to Sandra’s story from NPR’s Talk of the Nation
Wendy Wetzel Submitted via Twitter I’m white; she’s black. How do I help her through so much new to me?
Kimberly, Detroit, MI. I was just listening to Talk of the Nation with Celeste Headlee discussing Navigating The Lines Between Ethnicity And Identity and I could relate to notion of being biracial and adopted into a white family and having to explore my identity through education and exposure to other black people. I’ve learned that […]
Sandy Balazic Tempe, AZ The year was 1960 and I was 4 years old. My parents had a housekeeper/babysitter to help while they both worked. One day my father noticed that she would sneak me off behind the basement door on the landing where she kept her personal belongings. When he asked me about this, […]
Katie Blunt, Freson, CA. “We don’t care if you marry a black man, but we just want you to know that your life will be harder if you do,” my parents said to me when I was sixteen. I married a man whose family is from the Philippines. I always wonder if that’s white enough […]
Katherine F., Minneapolis, MN. I met a woman through professional circles when I was recruiting for a volunteer project. As it happens, she lived near me. We formed committees for this initiative and began talking more socially on the phone. I went over to her house a few times for coffee. One weekend she invited […]
Ntwali Gaju, Riverside, CA. It amazes me how difficult is for us people to accept and appreciate how God made us and other around the world. For example, I am black, and I come from Africa. In my country, you are considered more beautiful if you are light skin than dark skin. So, I always […]
Kendra Jones, Selma, AL. As a white woman who voted for Obama twice, I found myself wanting to claim him as my own. “He’s half white, I’d insist to myself.” But then I began to think about our past anti-miscegenation laws in the 19th century. An individual with as little as 1/32nd percent African ancestry […]
Ian Peterkin, Bridgeport, CT. When you think about it, what do you know of the achievements of black Americans other than what you get in February? Virtually everything I’ve learned about black art, literature, culture, and religion, I learned on my own. Cut off from one’s cultural identity, point of origin, and the stories that […]
James Michael Rogers Houston, TX I was at my neighborhood park one morning jogging, and I saw three white women walking abreast in one direction, and a black woman coming towards them in the opposite direction. The white women ignored the black woman and no one stepped back to let the black lady pass, and […]
Brenda Bielke, Submitted via Twitter: @brendabie. @michele_norris, #theracecardproject
John Brocato, Submitted via Twitter: @johnwardbrocato
Kelly Wickham, Springfield, IL. When I was born the white nurse told my mom that “mixed” wasn’t a category and she put “white” on my birth certificate, but my mother knew she’d be raising a child that the world would identify as black and she raised me as such.
Melissa Weir, Trout Valley, IL. We like to think that we are like every other family, whatever that means. But questions like “are those your real kids” or “what happened to their real parents” make that impossible. Nonetheless we are a close, joyful, and fortunate family.
Alonzo Felder, Durham, NC. Called by many names over the years.
Shakira, Phoenix, AZ. One day after our teacher snapped photos of our class she developed them in black and white and scattered them out on a table and told us to find ourselves. I got frustrated because I could not find my photo; that day my mother was volunteering as class mother and she pointed […]
LaVonda Staples, St. Louis, MI. I deserve the right and reserve the right to not follow a script designed to keep me in a role which does not and has never fit.
Samantha C., Jacksonville, FL.
Dr. Brian K. Clardy, Murray, KY.
Andrea Hyson, San Francisco, CA. About two months ago, I finally met a new employee in another department. This woman and I had numerous phone conversations but hadn’t yet met. I decided to stop by her office to introduce myself. Another employee was at her door as I approached. As I turned into her office, […]
Mary Mills, Los Angeles, CA. I am a black female surfer. (What stereotypes?)
Shelley Ferrand, USA. After the initial shock of their coming out, I realized that THEY are the long search for fruits of my 1960’s labor and radicalism. So, when I see the economic travesties in our community, after I pledged on campus 40 years ago to give it my all to help end my people’s […]
Nikki Hyde, Los Angelos, CA. I’m a proud member of the multiracial community but still looking for a simple, clear word to describe what I am, not what I am not or what percentage of something else I am.
Elizabeth Hess, New Haven, CT. That photo is the end paper of my yearbook, Weaver High School, Hartford, Connecticut, 1975. I was one of about 15 white kids in a huge city school. I loved the laughter in the hallways, the treasured friendships, the “take me as I am-ness” of the classmates I most wanted […]
Michael Bolton , Scottsdale, AZ. Understanding Race Project- University of Michigan Dad Caucasian. lived life in black neighborhood mostly. studied black history–college+leisure. love black culture esp music, classic jazz. slave narratives. am black myself but cannot pass as such. other dad, my partner, black, died. am now single dad, not planned. bringing up son in […]
William G. Duval, Fairfax, VT. My wife and I have a racially blended family in one of the whitest states in the union. I think it has made a difference in some admittedly small ways.
Nicole, New Orleans, LA. Black women are so obsessed with their hair that it can totally consume their life… “I can’t get in the pool ‘cuz I can’t get my hair wet”. “Girl, I can’t work out and sweat and mess up my hair”. “I can’t buy that. I gotta pay to get my hair […]
Sherry Weaver, Woodstock, GA. Our family is a beautiful rainbow. We are pink with brown spots and brown with pink spots. We are just a family. I didn’t “rescue” anyone-we gave each other gifts. I was given the incredible gift of love and diversity, and they got a family who loves them and can appreciate […]
Debra Rosenberg, Phoenix, AZ. I am the person I am meant to be, and proud to be a Jew even though growing up I knew what it was like to be “Black”. I had to overcome many obstacles of prejudices.